Disaster Response News and Info

Prayers and patience are requested by Disaster Relief Coordinators on the scene.

There are very few constants in this world. The sun rises in the east. The sun sets in the west. The people of the Central Texas Conference are eager and ready to assist their sisters and brothers in need following a natural or manmade disaster. As such, it wasn’t a surprise at all to Rev. Laraine Waughtal, CTC Coordinator of Disaster Response/UMVIM, that her phone and email were white hot with questions as to how people could help following the news that five confirmed tornadoes ripped through East Texas in the evening hours of Saturday, April 29. Click here to read more about the CTC's response and how you can help immediately.


UMCOR earns 4 Star Rating from Top Charity Evaluator

UMCOR earns highest possible ranking and named to a distinguished group of charities working to overcome some of the world’s most pressing challenges

The Central Texas Conference Disaster Response Ministry Team has worked hand-in-hand with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) for 14 years. During that time the two organizations have led efforts all across Texas and the U.S. to not just rebuild homes, but to rebuild lives by caring for the emotional and spiritual needs of those recovering from a disaster. The CTC/UMCOR team has become so well-known and respected in times of crisis that CTC Coordinator of Disaster Response Rev. Laraine Waughtal often hears something akin to “Oh thank God! The Methodists are here!” whenever she arrives on the scene with an ERT teamRead more at ctcumc.org/UMCOR4Star.

Lake Whitney Tornado: ERT Teams Needed

Tornado recovery efforts begin in Whitney, Texas

Tornados hit the Lake Whitney area Sunday night, Jan.16, 2017.  According to the National Weather Service, the EF-1 tornado brought winds of up to 90 miles per hour, mostly to the eastern side of Lake Whitney. Multiple homes were destroyed, and many more homes and businesses were damaged.

Central Texas Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, Rev. Laraine Waughtal, has put a call out for help from our CTC ERT Badged Teams.  There are a lot of downed trees that need to be removed before we can even get to the homes.  That being said, we are looking for chainsaw teams, those with trained Site Assessment folks, and those willing to remove debris.

Read more and register your team here.



Volunteers are needed in a final push to finish clean-up from 2015-2016 floods.

CTC ERT and UMVIM teams are down to the final 10 homes in Williamson County, but they are up against a Feb. 28 deadline to close out the work. Volunteers and donations are very much needed so the remaining homes can be repaired and rebuilt in time. Please contact Juli Ivie, Williamson County Disaster Response volunteer coordinator, at taylortxvolunteers@gmail.com or 817-995-4058. On-the-job training is available.

Click on the video below to see a special message from Rev. Laraine Waughtal, CTC Disaster Response Coordinator, to any and all who might be able to help. To download and share this message with your church, click here and follow the download link below the video on that page.

Williamson County Long-Term Relief Final Stages from Central Texas Conference UMC on Vimeo.


Offering to be received by July 18 if possible.  Badged ERT Teams Needed.

After meeting with the Central Texas Conference Disaster Relief Team, Bishop Lowry is calling on the churches of the Central Texas Conference to take a special Central Texas Flood Relief offering sometime within the next four weeks. The following is the letter sent to all CTC churches.
Dear Friends, I am writing to call for a special offering to be taken in all of the local churches of the Central Texas Conference for flood relief efforts in our conference.
As you may be aware, significant flooding has occurred in Hood (Granbury) and Eastland County (Breckenridge and Cisco). As of the last report I’ve seen, more than 300 homes have been damaged – some completely - and that number is still rising. We have ERT teams already on the scene and actively working in Breckenridge and Granbury, and, as I write this letter, we are still in the accessing the situation phase in the Cisco area.
Rev. Laraine Waughtal, CTC Coordinator of Disaster Response/UMVIM, tells me that the majority of the damage has come from an unprecedented amount of torrential rainfall that affected a wide swath of Eastland and Hood counties, including areas that have never before flooded according to available records.
Given the urgency of the situation, I am requesting that this offering be received within the next month. While the immediate needs are primarily in and around the communities of Granbury, Breckenridge and Cisco, the Center for Mission support, through the office of Disaster Response, may use the money received for flood relief in other parts of the conference should the need arise in the next six months*.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has also pledged a $100k grant for immediate aid in flood relief. The UMCOR grant and the donations received via this special offering will be administered by Rev. Waughtal and the CTC Center for Mission Support in partnership with local officials and the United Methodist Churches in the affected areas. As has been our long-standing practice, relief will be made available to all persons and families affected, not just United Methodists.
Please send the money** received in the offering to the Central Texas Conference Service Center, Attn: Laraine Waughtal, 3200 E. Rosedale Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76105. Checks should be made out to Central Texas Conference and please note CTC Flood Relief on the check.
As I compose this letter, the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew come to mind, “I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.” (Matthew 25: 40 CEB). Thank you for your consideration of this special offering and I ask that you do as you so often have done and give generously.
Yours in Christ,
          Bishop Mike Lowry
* All the money received will go directly to aid those affected by the flooding. No administration costs are deducted thanks to the One Great Hour of Sharing Special Offering traditionally received each March. The One Great Hour of Sharing offering goes to fund all of UMCORs administrative costs for the year, leaving 100 percent of monies donated to a particular relief effort free to help those in need. 
**At this time, financial support is all that is being requested and received in support of the flood relief efforts. Please watch the conference website, Quick Notes and District-wide communications should a need for other items occur.


There is an immediate need for teams of trained and currently badged ERT volunteers. If you are a team leader and your team is interested and available, please go to https://ctc-reg.brtapp.com/JuneFloodingERTteamregistration58  today and complete the short form. Once your registration is received, you will be contacted as soon as possible.  If you are an active and badged volunteer, but don't have a team and would like to see if you can be linked up with another team, please register and you will be contacted.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Laraine at larainewaughtal@ctcumc.org.  

Here are a few action photos of the ERT Teams already on the ground in Hood and Eastland County.



UMCOR Calls for Flood Buckets for East Texas and Louisiana

by Laraine Waughtal*
East Texas and Louisiana are still suffering and trying to recover from the HEAVY  flooding that hit those areas in February and March.  Reports indicate that this flooding was worse than Hurricane Ike.  Some waters are just now receding. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is almost out of cleaning buckets and they are desperate for. We have received permission from UMCOR to send these buckets directly to East Texas. 
The Central Texas Conference Disaster Response Team is already collecting cleaning buckets to go to FUMC Mansfield and we need your help immediately. Flood buckets will be collected at the First Mansfield Wesley Mission Center from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. The Mission Center is a single story building on the north side of the campus.  As you enter the main drive at 777 N. Walnut Creek Dr the building will be ahead of you on the right. You may also bring buckets on the last day which will be Sunday, April 24 from 3-6 pm. 
After all the buckets are collected, we will be taking them to Marshall, Texas to help in the area around Caddo Lake and other points in East Texas. For detailed instructions as to how to make a cleaning bucket, go to umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies/Relief-Supply-Kits/Cleaning.
Please turn in ONLY $1 per bucket for transportation costs (not the $1.50 UMCOR requires) Please send a check made out to CTCUMC for all the buckets you bring.  This will cover the costs for the truck to take the supplies to Marshall and return home.
Our sister conference needs our help.  I hope and pray you have the opportunity to do this or can help someone else make a bucket.
*Laraine is the coordinator of disaster response for the CTC.  larainewaughtal@ctcumc.org


Amazing Stories of Grace from Tornado Victims

(Jan. 18) -  While the clean-up process continues in all of the areas effected by the December tornadoes (some areas could take another 4-8 weeks for just the clean-up phase to be completed). Central Texas Early Response Teams continue to hear amazing miracle stories of survival and grace shown to those hit the hardest.
Currently Early Response Teams (ERTs) from Midlothian, First Mansfield, Morgan Mill, First Hillsboro, Wesley Chapel - Gohlson, White's Chapel, St. John the Apostle, Community of Hope, First Burleson, First Weatherford and First Hurst UMCs are on the scene and lending a hand. 195 Methodists working a total (so far) of 1,500 volunteer hours.


Five & Two Food Truck Rolls to Ellis County

(Jan. 10) The dream of the Five & Two Food Truck Ministry at Arlington Heights UMC (AHUMC) was to bring the church to the people and share the love of Christ with those in need. When the tornadoes ripped through North Texas after Christmas, the Five & Two team knew they could be of assistance. Through conversations with Rev. Laraine Waughtal, disaster response coordinator for the Central Texas Conference, AHUMC made connections with those organizing the relief efforts in Glenn Heights, located in Ellis County. It was determined that a great need existed days after the event, when national first responders pulled out of the area..
Over the course of a few days, the Five & Two team fed more than 600 emergency workers and volunteers. Read more here.

Ellis County/Glenn Heights ERTs Needed

(Dec. 30) - Our Early Response teams have already been hard at work helping people find and packing up their belongings, tarping roofs and boarding up windows.  We expect this work to be continuing for another week or two.  We are waiting for Ellis County to clear us to really clear properties at some point, so concentrating on the Glenn Heights area. Glenn Heights is partly in our conference and partly in the North Texas Conference.  However, due to the tornadoes that occurred in the Garland, Rowlett area we are working in partnership with the North Texas Conference and covering all of Glenn Heights for them.  The Methodist Connectional system at its best!  We are serving an area of at least 300 homes.  That number will likely rise some.

So, please read through these instructions before clicking on the link for your registration.

  1.  You can now take your trailers to the work sites.  We are doing debris removal and chainsaw work.
  2.  We do have locations for folks to stay overnight and showers are provided.
  3.  Everyone must register through our website.  Sheryl will than contact you with all your information.  We will be paying for everyone’s insurance.  However, we MUST HAVE everyone’s name so we can cover you on our insurance.  You will need to carry with you (and you will receive these forms when you register) 
         a. Your liability release form from the conference
         b. Your medical release form. (keep both of these forms in your vehicle so you will have them if someone gets     hurt   – which is not allowed!)
         c.  A liability release form for the city of Glenn Height that must be turned in when you register at the Glenn Heights city hall.
         d. A map of one sector indicating the direction of traffic flow and where you are allowed to park.
  4.  When you check in at Glenn Heights City Hall you will turn in your team members Glenn Heights liability form only!  If you can please walk in with a list of the roster of who you are bringing including name, what church you are with, organization (UMCOR – Central Texas United Methodist conference) that will help also.
  5.  A group called Team Rubicon will give you your work assignment and a vehicle pass to get into the area.  Everyone must be assigned to a team.  No individual volunteers allowed.
  6.  The address for your report location is Glenn Heights City at 1938 South Hampton Road, Glenn Heights.
  7.  Registration is between 9-4 and must be done each day with you also receiving a new vehicle pass each day.
  8.  For those teams going out on Thursday and Saturday the Arlington Heights UMC Food truck will be wondering the community feeding people for lunch!

Click Here to register!  Thank you for your service in the name and grace of Christ!

CTC to Lead Ellis County / Glenn Heights Tornado Response Efforts

(Dec. 27) - As many as 9 confirmed tornadoes ripped through Central and North Texas Saturday, Dec. 26 claiming 11 lives and leaving many neighborhoods facing “total devastation.” While cities and towns in the North Texas Conference bore the brunt of these tornadoes, communities and families of the Central Texas Conference are also sifting through the rubble left in the wake of an EF3 tornado – particularly in and around Ovilla, Red Oak and Glenn Heights, Texas.
Early Response teams from across the state and other national organizations were on the scene as quickly as possible once the storms blew out of the area; and, as has been the pattern of many disaster situations during the last few years, the Central Texas Conference Disaster Response team has been tabbed to take the lead in the response and recovery efforts for the Ellis County area.
Anyone wishing to assist in the relief efforts can make a financial donation to the Ellis County / Glenn Heights Tornado Disaster Relief Fund by sending a check to the Central Texas Conference Service Center (3200 E. Rosedale St., Fort Worth, Texas, 76105) - please note on the check that this is for Ellis County/Glenn Heights Tornado Relief. You can also send funds to the UMCOR Disaster Relief Advance Special No. 901670.

Update from Navarro County

Laraine Waughtal, disaster response coordinator for the Central Texas Conference, reports on the devastation caused by the nearly 30-inches of rain over the last week in Navarro County (Corsicana, Blooming Grove, Frost, etc.). While the damage is already bordering on overwhelming, there is still much more to come since early response teams are still unable to get to many of the more severely affected areas. More than 30 percent of the county's roads remain impassable due to high water or extreme flood damage. There is already a great need for assistance (with much more to come as the water recedes enough for crews to get to these still flooded areas) since much of the flooding occurred in areas with no history of flooding - thus many residents were severely under-insured or had no flood insurance.  Click here to learn more about the situation and how you, your church and/or your small group can immediately help the recovery efforts.


Navarro County Flooding - ERT Team Registration

Major flooding in Navarro County (Corsicana area) has resulted in the mobilization of the Central Texas Conference Early Response Teams (CTC ERT).  We have been meeting with families and there is a tremendous need.  We need a number of roofs tarped, muck outs and sheet rock and insulation removed.  We have a place for everyone to stay at FUMC Corsicana that has four showers!  Do NOT call them yourselves.  Please use the link provided below for your team leader to register your team.  We need an approximate number of people and when you can come.  The only cost for you is your insurance, transportation and meals.  Once you register we will contact you to confirm days, etc.  We need teams starting to start working now!  We will be working for a while. 

Team leaders should click on the following to register https://ctc-reg.brtapp.com/Navarrocountyfloodingertregistration

News from a Team

On Saturday, November 7th, St. John the Apostle UMC joined other  churches in Corsicana to provide aid to the victims of recent heavy rain in that community.  The first step in the process is to tarp the roofs to stop the water from coming into the homes then remove water-soaked sheetrock from the ceilings to prevent mold and mildew.  In coming months other crews will be going back to assist in the rebuilding process.



How the CTC Responds to Disaster



From the time a disaster happens and is made known, the CTC is in response mode. The CTC Disaster Response Coordinator, Susan Luttrell, and the members of the Disaster Task Force begin monitoring the situations in our communities and across the state and the South Central Jurisdiction for that matter. They are in contact with city, county and state officials, our churches in the affected area and myriad others to learn first hand how we, as United Methodists, can be the hands and feet of Christ. Because the scene of a disaster is just that, a disaster, often times the immediate answer is "We'll let you know what we need as soon as we know."
Sometimes, the hardest part of disaster response is balancing what is being reported by media and what is actually happening on the ground. Watching the TV and reading online reports and Tweets can be deceiving about the scope of a disaster area, because often the details being reported are not complete or accurate. 
However, our trained ERT and Disaster Response team members are in contact with those who do know what’s going on. As such, individuals and churches are reminded to be patient and don’t immediately respond to what you are seeing and hearing in the news. Of course that’s a big ask for compassionate Christians living in a 24-hour news cycle society, where reporters too often employ the “we have to be first with the story and we’ll get to the actual facts of the situation much later” method of (ahem) journalism. Just try and remember the following before you head to the nearest big box discount warehouse store to buy pallets of bottled water for those in need. By the time you hear of a disaster, the CTC Disaster Response team is

  • already compiling the most accurate information to share with CTC members and churches and will share it as soon as the local officials are ready to release information;  
  • checking on which victims/survivors are insured versus those who are not;
  • activating the CTC’s Early Response Teams, who have the specialized training to effectively respond and coordinating with UMCOR if a larger scale response seems necessary;
  • determining if help is actually needed or if the local community can and prefers to handle it locally;
  • patiently waiting for the disaster zone to be safe from flood waters, debris, electrical, gas and other issues (yes, they have to exercise patience too!); and
  • holding off on any response outside our conference as the team never crosses the boundaries of another conference unless invited to come help. 

Because these disasters get so much news coverage, and Texans in general are a generous bunch, communities too often end up with the secondary disaster of having an abundance of donated goods that they can’t use and don’t have a place to store. And even the ones that do have storage capabilities probably are in no shape to handle the immediate influx of donations. They have to have time to organize themselves and work things out. We do not want to be a part of the problem by trying to be a too immediate part of the solution.
So, what can you do to help immediately following a disaster? Here are the top 5 actions you can do to immediately assist...

  1. Pray and be patient and let the Disaster Response Team find out the best answer to that question. 
  2. When the event is in our conference, believe that the team is working on it and sometimes answers take time. 
  3. Understand that most often, the greatest help for survivors are gift cards (what type will be shared when that info is available) and monetary donations to get them what they actually need not what we think they need. Remember, 100 percent of what you give through UMCOR or the CTCSC goes to the recovery of that community – no overhead or administrative costs.
  4. Never call the local UMC in the disaster area in the days immediately following the disaster. That church is already overwhelmed and cannot take everyone’s call. That church is busy just trying to care for its own members and locate them and get organized. If you have questions call Susan at the conference office. 
  5. Look at the ERT section of the conference website and register for the next ERT training session so you can be more quickly involved in the recovery efforts. . 

None of the above is meant to quell the passion and desire to help so often expressed by Central Texas Conference members and churches. That passion is why our Disaster Response Team works so hard and is so vital to our conference. However, it’s been proven time and time again that the best way to focus our conference call to assist those in need is by working through our connectional system, taking all the time and steps to adequately assess each disaster situation and then going in and providing the assistance needed, when it’s needed, where it’s needed and how it’s needed.